slum to the soccer leader board
Sport has always been a center of attraction as a hobby, but it also has the ability to change the lives. Take the example of our beneficiary Shubhangi Bhandare. She grew up in a small slum area; Sanjay Nagar, Ahmednagar where she played football every day with her local friends sparking a liking towards the sport. Football soon became her passion and she didn’t hold back in pursuing her dream to play at national and international levels.
What role did Balbhavan play in this journey?
With Shubhangi being one among many of our beneficiaries kicking a ball around the lanes they live in, our Balbhavan took an initiative to engage with and improve the quality of life of children living in slums through our Satyamev Jayate Football Academy. Our Academy then connected to Slum Soccer, a Nagpur-based NGO that uses football as a vehicle to transcend race, religion, language and gender to bring about positive change. It also focus on using football to inculcate valuable life skills and address social issues like nutrition, gender equality, environmental awareness, etc. Our Balbhavan teams were invited to trials for the State team and Shubhangi was among the players selected. Her performance on the pitch then duly secured her place in Team India for Homeless World Cup 2019.
What is Homeless World Cup?
Homeless World Cup gives all underprivileged children the opportunity to enjoy football regardless of different barriers. Slum Soccer holds tournaments at district, state and national level which serve as the selection process of the team that will further represent India at the competition, which this year was hosted in Cardiff, UK. Players attend two training camps preceding the final selection to allow the participants to prepare, groom themselves, improve their communication skills, learn about culture and language of the host nation and improve their leadership skills through on and off field sessions.
How did the entire football festival take place?
This was the 17th Homeless World Cup held at Cardiff’s Bute Park, right at the heart of the Welsh capital, between July 27 and August 3 2019.
More than 500 players representing over 50 countries travelled to Cardiff to attend the week-long festival of football and experience how the power of sport can transform the lives of people experiencing homelessness and social exclusion. Tens of thousands of spectators visited the competition and festival, enjoying the matches, lively discussions and debates and live music, the majority of which was conducted in glorious Welsh sunshine.
The 44 men’s teams fought for their positions in six trophy competitions with rankings from tier six to tier one based on which the teams finished the qualifying stages; the Beddgelert Cup, the Llewellyn Cup, the Dragon Cup, the Glyndwr Cup, the Cardiff Cup and the Homeless World Cup. And 16 women’s teams were separated into two competitions; the Celtic Cup and the Homeless World Cup.
Both the men’s and women’s teams of Mexico were crowned the Champions of the Homeless World Cup 2019. Both Indian teams played 12 matches with different countries. Our women’s team with Shubhangi playing as Number 2, finished in the top 8 teams, the first time for Team India, reaching 7th position. The men’s team won the ‘Dragon Cup’, the first trophy for them in the history of the competition and placed in 25th position overall. These results were a huge accomplishment for the teams and the made India proud.
What are Shubhangi's future plan?
After three years of playing football with Slum Soccer this year Shubhangi’s dream of representing Team India at an international level came true. She is looking forward to be an inspiration to all the other girls in her neighbourhood who also have the desire to dream big and do great things for society at large, breaking stigmas and spreading the word for sexual equality. She is already a role model for many.
What is Snehalaya for Shubhangi?
When asked about Snehalaya, she says: “Balbhavan helped me to look towards the future in a more positive perspective. They have supported me since day one. It’s my family. They have always taken care of me, provided me the financial support I needed and helped to nurture my passion. Balbhavan has provided a turning point in my life. I look forward to becoming a football coach which will also help me to become a police officer (sports quota). So I’m very grateful to Snehalaya.”